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Question Number: 31293

Law 5 - The Referee 2/25/2017

RE: Competitive Under 19

Wyatt Redmond of Chattaroy, WA United States asks...

If a ref acknowledges a foul has happened but refused to call it due to it being the dying seconds of the game. ( 6' 200lb man tackled a 5'5 120lb female ) Are you legally allowed to file a complaint due to the referee breaching his contract of calling a fair and equal game? (Cont.) I then confronted the man ( Me being 6'4 200) and asked why he didn't help her up because it is his duty to be sportsmanlike, he then cursed at me so I went to the ref and he claimed to have seen the situation and would've called the foul would it have been earlier in the game, which calls for me questioning his morals on player safety and breach of contract.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Wyatt
Matters of opinion are not protestable. What you describe is certainly not protestable as the referee has not done anything that is an error in Law. Sometimes not so smart words are used after the game or in explaining. Okay let us say the foul was called in the last few seconds. The easy decision was to call the foul and then blow up the game immediately. What does that change and perhaps the referee felt that as it did not affect the outcome he let it slide. Also I believe that mixed games with players of hugely differing physiques can and does lead to mismatches in challenges. The player here does not read like a very nice individual.
So I would question the wisdom of playing such mixed games with individuals who are not mindful of the safety of opponents . It also places a greater responsibility on referees in trying to curtail physicality that can be fair yet a risk.
I would also point out that the focus here is one incident in a full game. One uncalled incident does not bring into question for me the referees fairness, morals or anything when the game is effectively over as a contest. As you said had the player helped up his opponent with an apology would the focus have been on the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Wyatt,
While it is true that fouls should be called the same way no matter when they occur, the question of whether to award any particular free kick or not is a referee's judgement call. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by filing a legal complaint but if you mean protesting to the competition organisers, this would not be a protestabe error. If on the other hand, you mean pursuing an action through the courts then I suppose that theoretically you could try although I rather doubt that a court system would uphold such a complaint.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Wyatt,
I have a common saying here at ask the ref that denotes characterization of those who fill in at the middle of the game!
Your Match! Your Decision! Your Reputation!
Like any platitude it has limitations but in effect we create our own heaven or hell by our choice of actions & compassion for those who disagree be it unjustly or not! One can not just discount dissent even if we are not swayed by it in the performance of our duties!

There is always a degree of responsibility & accountability for whomever is on the pitch, in whatever capacity that individual is involved.
To a spectator/parent who sees what they think?
To a player who sees what he feels!
To the coach who sees what he wants!
I find the truth as we each see it can cause a match to be perceived differently as our version of events can be skewed by our own interpretations and needs. Not that our concerns are not genuine!
A referee with integrity sees what he sees. To think otherwise is to demean the
character of the referee without really knowing the individual.
When an incident occurs that rankles your view of what was fair or unfair safe or dangerous you have every right to feel irritate or angry based on your own observations. I personally do not like to see a heavy contact foul to go unacknowledged even if I sense the referee was trying not to invoke a late send off or just wants to let the game play out with a minimum of intercession! In an mixed match defending the honor of the opposite sex can be one of a sense of duty.
However, it is a harsh escalation to accuse a referee of deliberate misinterpretation or an uncaring dismissive attitude even if by the standards you explained, it could appear our referee may not have covered himself in rose petals. You attributed a motive to him which I find suspect, even if I dislike his non intervention. You rallied to a team mate, not an unchivalrous action but you allowed your anger at the opposing player to be transferred to the referee for not punishing him effectively. Any official can make a weak or illogical decision with justification as that it was simply an opinion, such evaluations of intervention or non intervention do have a certain criteria basis. If a referee fails to grasp the ramifications of allowing such a situation to escalate he could eventually wind up before a board explaining his thoughts to a panel if he does not learn from the problems that arise when we make arbitrary decisions that are perceived by others that do not do the game justice.

But outside of a simple polite question, 'Seriously ref why did you not do something? The need for legal action is excessive.
A word/letter to the assignor and those who mentor or train within the league might serve well if the criticism was worded in a helpful manner rather than an attack on his character.

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